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Cooking With The Pastry Queen


claire797
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Last night LonghornGal, F52, Rita and my friend Sarah took a Central Market Class with Rebecca Rather. It was a great class because it let us try four recipes out of her book, The Pastry Queen. Does anyone else own it? Now that we've tasted four of her cakes, Longhorngal and I plan to bake our way through it. We'll be posting pictures and reviews in this thread.

So far, we've made her maple oatmeal cookies, café chocolate cherry cookies, and her blackberry bars. All were excellent, and I’ll post the pictures later.

During last night's class, RR made the best white cake I’ve ever had (recipe is in her book), the strawberry ricotta cake, an American Beauty cake (which was really a chocolate mousse cake) and her “Totally Rummy” cake which has to be the best scratch rum cake I’ve ever eaten.

Her book has lots of other sweet things, but there are quite a few savory recipes as well. I’ll list a few more recipes later and will cook and post more pictures and reviews here.

If you get a chance, take one of her classes. Or better yet, road trip out to the Hill Country and visit her at the bakery before she becomes too famous. She’s incredibly talented.

Here are a few pictures from last night. More to come.

Pretty in Pink Cake (white cake)

gallery_5354_457_39819.jpg

Rum Cake

gallery_5354_457_47562.jpg

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oooh, Anna, those look great! I will have to check out that book. Was this a hands-on class, or more of a demonstration?

Off to check out CM's site to see if she's coming to Houston...

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Hi Rebecca,

It was a demo-and-eat class, with free flowing questions and answers. We all had cake and wine for dinner, and we all had tummy aches at the end!

My favorite was the American Beauty cake - terribly rich and sinful, with a garnish of rose petals. However, it looked like it had waaaay too many steps for me to bother with it (although I'm happy to eat it!). Make the cake, make the mousse, make the glaze, assemble in various steps, freeze between... but the end result was worth the effort.

I was fascinated by the flamingo-pink marzipan on the Pretty in Pink cake. It was tasty! The white cake was really good, and the layers came out perfectly flat - no need to flatten yourself.

The ricotta cake had the coolest presentation, dome shaped and covered in sliced berries. However, it had a ricotta filling that I didn't rave over - too cheesy and too ricotta-y in texture. She did recommend using almond flavoring in the angel food cake part and that tasted darn good.

The Totally Rummy cake... mmmmmmmmmmmm. I loved the glaze. Loved loved loved it. That's a must-try!

From the cookbook:

The café chocolate cherry cookies were very good. I've had coworkers come to me 2 days later to tell me how they really liked them and ask if I was planning any more baking... Hey Anna, wanna make some more cookies that I can take credit for? But I did scoop them off the Silpat myself!

--Kristin

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I have been lucky enough to be a student in 2 of Rebecca's classes here in Beaumont (she's from here and is a relative of a couple of friends of mine), and I had a terrific lunch at her restaurant last fall. I have her book, and have used it quite often. Her pot pies are outstanding and so is the King Ranch Chicken. I keep the balsamic vinigrette (I know I spelled that wrong) in my fridge most of the time. I haven't made anything - yet- sweet, but her savory offerings are outstanding. She's funny and entertaining as a teacher, and is incredibly hard-working. Reminds me of melmck on the Baking Forum.

She is a Hill Country Treasure.

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Kristin, you can take credit for all my baking, so long as you help me get it out of the house! :).

Dana, Rebecca joked that we should never request that she make pot pies again. She's made so many of them, she's tired of doing it. Same with the Big Hair Lemon Tart. She's given us the recipe and we can do it ourselves.

I have to rave once more about the white cake -- aka Pretty in Pink Cake aka White on White with Jack Daniels frosting. It is the best white cake recipe ever. I scaled the recipe down to a third today and baked it in a 9 inch pan. It was thinner than it's suppose to be due to my pan size modification (the full recipe makes two 9 inch cakes, but it was just as moist and flavorful. I'd like to put the recipe in Recipegullet, but I'd be doing a disservice to anyone who copied the recipe and didn't buy the whole book. It's just so packed with good things.

Dana, what other savory items do you recommend? I'm still on a sugar high from last night and today and would like to move into something non-sweet.

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And one more thing.

She's really into Lyle's Golden Syrup. I found that kind of odd considering she's a Texan and Lyle's is more of a UK thing, but it's becoming more readily available and Rebecca Rather's book will create more of a demand for the stuff if it (the book) keeps selling like it has been. It's selling *really* well.

I bought a bottle of it last night and it will no doubt become a staple in my pantry.

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And one more thing. 

She's really into Lyle's Golden Syrup.  I found that kind of odd considering she's a Texan and Lyle's is more of a UK thing, but it's becoming more readily available and Rebecca Rather's book will create more of a demand for the stuff if it (the book) keeps selling like it has been.  It's selling *really* well.

I bought a bottle of it last night and it will no doubt become a staple in my pantry.

The next time you make a pecan pie, sub the Tate and Lyles Golden Syrup for the Karo. That is the only why I will make Pecan Pie or Derby pie anymore.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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I'd also recommend the Rather Rich Corn Muffins. Rebecca made them at the last class I attended. The Rosemary Vinaigrette that goes on the Nuevo Texas Waldorf Salad is a little sweet for my taste on a regular green salad, but it was great with the salad in the book. My favorite dressing is the one with the goat cheese/pecan salad. It's much less sweet than the other one.

The thing that really makes the pot pies sing is the crust. The recipe calls for 10 oz of cream cheese, and don't try to get by with 8. Rebecca told me that she often uses even more than 10oz. It's really great.

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Dana. I’ll put Rather Rich Corn Muffins on the list. I’m not sure they are rich enough, though. Is 3 sticks of butter, 3 cups heavy whipping cream and 1 cup sugar enough :shock: for a yield of 2 dozen muffins? I’ll be sure to serve them with butter. :wink:

I think we'll try the Nuevo Texas Waldorf salad too.

J, thanks for the pecan pie tip. Next time I make a syrup based pecan pie, I’ll try it. For the record, here’s a really good pecan pie recipe that doesn’t use syrup.

I thought I'd put this in the Recipegullet, but it looks like I haven't. This is a recipe I adapted from an old ladies club type cookbook. My changes are browning the butter, toasting the pecans and using more butter and vanilla.

Browned Butter Pecan Pie

1 1/2 cups pecan pieces

3/4 cup butter ( 1 ½ sticks)

2 cups light brown sugar, packed

3 eggs

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

9 inch unbaked pie shell

In a large skillet, toast pecans over medium heat. Remove pecans from skillet.

Add butter to skillet and heat over medium until melted and browned. Stir in brown sugar and turn off heat.

In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, salt and vanilla. Add 1/4 cup brown sugar mixture to egg mixture, stirring (not beating) constantly. Pour in remaining brown sugar/butter mixture and stir well. Stir in toasted pecans. Pour into unbaked pie shell.

Set unbaked pie on a cookie sheet in case of boil-overs. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes

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For those of us who are ignorant about Texas - where is the Hill Country? Where can we best enjoy these desserts (without cooking them ourselves)? I'll be in Dallas/Austin in a couple of weeks. Robyn

Edited by robyn (log)
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For those of us who are ignorant about Texas - where is the Hill Country?  Where can we best enjoy these desserts (without cooking them ourselves)?  I'll be in Dallas/Austin in a couple of weeks.  Robyn

Robyn, I hope you're looking forward to your Texas trip. If you are going to be in the Austin area for any length of time, then you should definitely take a road trip to Fredericksburg. It's a cute little touristy town southwest(ish) of Austin -- probably an hour's drive from where you are staying, give or take a few minutes. You could Google up better directions than I could give you, but I will tell you there are a few good restaurants, lots of crafty/souvenier type shops and a few gourmet type food things in town. And of course there's Rebecca Rather's bakery, which I believe is located just off Main Street.

Fredericksburg is known for their peaches and for being the birthplace of Admiral Nimitz. In fact, if you're a history buff, there's a museum dedicated to the Pacific War.

http://www.nimitz-museum.org/

The Hill Country is also known for its many Texas vineyards. This URL is a good start.

http://www.texaswinetrails.com/

Fredericksburg also has a neat wine shop (at least they use to) where you can taste a lot of different wines before you buy. Hopefully, it's still there.

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Maple Glazed Oatmeal Cookies

I’m cheating a bit by reviewing these, as I made them months ago, but I still remember what they taste like and have a nice picture.

I wouldn’t call these the best oatmeal cookies *ever*, but they were very good and I would make them again for 1) the uniqueness of the maple and 2) the excellent glaze. They’re attractive, tasty cookies, but they are on the more plain side and pale to some of my more flamboyantly spiced oatmeal cookie recipes. They were also flatter than I like oatmeal cookies to be and lacked the raisins, which I love so dearly. RR says in the book (and reiterated in her class) that she has a raisin aversion. As a sub, she uses dried cranberries.

Has anyone else made these yet? I’m tempted to make them again, but am pretty sure I’d get the same results. If I make them again, form myself I’ll make adjustments --some spices and maybe pecans?

Here’s a picture. The glaze really is good and it firms up very well.

gallery_5354_457_10716.jpg

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That wine shop was still in Fredricksburg when I was there in November. It's on Main Street.

Great! I haven't been in ages. Glad it's still there.

I made the Rather Rich Corn Muffins for a friend this morning. They’re tasty, as you might expect with all that butter and cream. My friend is a breastfeeding Army helicopter pilot mom-of-two-boys so calories and fat aren’t an issue for her. Me, I’d rather eat lower fat corn bread and save my richness for dessert. Or for that much fat, I’ll take a croissant. All in all, I’d give these 4 stars. Sorry to be so picky about the richness, but it just seemed excessive for muffin.

The Goat Cheese Spiced Pecan Salad is 5 stars! I’ve made it twice in a row and we love it – it’s a perfect balance of salty and sweet. I cut down the entire amount of oil in the dressing to 2 tablespoons and that was plenty.

gallery_5354_457_160412.jpg

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That salad looks great!!

I realized that I had posted the Rebecca was a relative to a couple of friends of mine - I should have said, I think she is. I did send her a link to this discussion, so maybe she'll join us!!

Edited by Dana (log)

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Kristin and Anna, thank you so much for the continued description of the class, and thank you Dana for the additional suggestions! I am going to keep an eye out for that cookbook. It doesn't look like Rebecca is scheduled to come to Central Market in Houston in the near future, but I will keep checking for her classes.

Thanks again!

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Robyn, I hope you're looking forward to your Texas trip.  If you are going to be in the Austin area for any length of time, then you should definitely take a road trip to Fredericksburg.  It's a cute little touristy town southwest(ish) of Austin -- probably an hour's drive from where you are staying, give or take a few minutes.  You could Google up better directions than I could give you, but I will tell you there are a few good restaurants, lots of crafty/souvenier type shops and a few gourmet type food things in town.  And of course there's Rebecca Rather's bakery, which I believe is located just off Main Street.

Fredericksburg is known for their peaches and for being the birthplace of Admiral Nimitz.  In fact, if you're a history buff, there's a museum dedicated to the Pacific War.

http://www.nimitz-museum.org/

The Hill Country is also known for its many Texas vineyards.  This URL is a good start.

http://www.texaswinetrails.com/

Fredericksburg also has a neat wine shop (at least they use to) where you can taste a lot of different wines before you buy.  Hopefully, it's still there.

Of course I'm looking forward to the trip. Wouldn't have planned it if I didn't think it would be fun :smile: ! We're flying into Houston - driving to Austin. We'll be in Austin for 3 nights/2 days - then on to Dallas. I'll have to take a look at the maps and see where Fredericksburg is in relation to these cities. Thanks for all the information. Robyn

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Thanks for starting this cook-along with The Pastry Queen thread, claire797. I talked to Rebeca briefly when she did a class at Cook Works in Dallas. I have my copy of the book on the way, and I'll definitely do the Rather Rich Cornbread Muffins as soon as it arrives.

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Thanks for starting this cook-along with The Pastry Queen thread, claire797. I talked to Rebeca briefly when she did a class at Cook Works in Dallas. I have my copy of the book on the way, and I'll definitely do the Rather Rich Cornbread Muffins as soon as it arrives.

Richard, I'll be interested in hearing your corn muffin review. I think my review was somewhat biased due to my shock at the colossal amount of fat :laugh:. Taken at face value, the muffins are (were) pretty darn good.

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Just finished a batch of Essence of Orange Muffins. They are superb. Incredibly tender and not too sweet. So many muffins are more like cupcakes, but these really muffin-y. There is a glaze on the top (I put it on while warm). RR states that they are a good base recipe and often adds fresh fruit to the mix. She made them in Texas sized tins, but I used regular size since that's all I have. - recipe made 18, 17 of which I'll take to work tonight. They were also very easy to put together with ingredients I usually already have in the house. 5 stars.

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Just finished a batch of Essence of Orange Muffins. They are superb. Incredibly tender and not too sweet. So many muffins are more like cupcakes, but these really muffin-y. There is a glaze on the top (I put it on while warm). RR states that they are a good base recipe and often adds fresh fruit to the mix. She made them in Texas sized tins, but I used regular size since that's all I have. - recipe made 18, 17 of which I'll take to work tonight. They were also very easy to put together with ingredients I usually already have in the house. 5 stars.

Thanks for the review! We love orange muffins, but for some reason, I must have skipped over this recipe. I don't even remember seeing it. I'll definitely give these a try.

BTW. I recently bought a silicone muffin tins (the kind with the rack) and love it! It's supposed to be non-stick, but I spray it with cooking spray anyway. It works extremely well and I don't have to worry about it getting rusty or old.

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I'm so in agreement with Anna and Kristin about that white cake (the Pretty-in-Pink cake). I made it twice now for a cake decorating class I'm taking BECAUSE it does indeed bake up flat. Miraculous... I made it in 8 inch cake pans and it needs to cook for about 5-7 minutes more but it tastes sooooo good. I can't wait to make the entire cake with the marzipan coating. Looks almost as good as fondant but tastes way, way better.

Oh, and I drive through Fredericksburg from Austin all the time on my way to visit friends in Kerrville and it is about and hour and half west of Austin--take Hwy 71 to Johnson City, turn left on Hwy 290 and go another 25 or so miles. Rather Sweet Bakery is on Hwy 290 right smack in the middle of town, except on the left. It's across the street and a little west of the Nimitz Museum and you have to walk between buildings to a little courtyard to get back to it. You'll love it!

Another place I like for a ladies-who-lunch kind of place is the Peach Tree Tearoom. Turn left on Hwy 87 towards Kerrville and go about 1/2 mile down on the right.

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I have talked with Rebecca and she will be joining us here in a few days as we try out her recipes.

Great news!

I'm making Rocket Rolls this morning. Wish me luck, as I haven't made a decent yeast bread in years. I use to be successful with yeast doughs, but have had a string of failures lately. Every time I started kneading with the dough hook of my KA, the dough gets too sticky and I end up adding more flour -- usually way more than the recipe calls for. The end result has been heavy bread.

This happened again with the Rocket Roll dough. I used the 6 1/2 cups bread flour called for, but the dough was too wet. I put aside the dough hook and kneaded more flour into the dough by hand, so it's now sticky, but not completely unmanageable. I'm scared of how it's going to be after the rising period. Eek.

Edited by claire797 (log)
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I no expert, but where are you keeping your flour? Is it absorbing moisture?

Keep us posted on how they turn out, and good luck.

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